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March 28, 2011

"When You Come To A Fork In Your Time-Limited, Scope-Limited Military Action, Take It"

My apologies to Yogi Berra but that's the thought I had when I read this series of tweets from a French journalist about the rebels in Libya.

Without further air strikes you cannot see the rebels advancing much further. They are asking for more help from the air. 7 minutes ago via web

It seems quite amazing that even heavily-armed rebel trucks left the frontline in panic when rockets started to drop. 8 minutes ago via web

A large convoy of rebels, many unarmed, left their positions very quickly as soon as rockets started getting too close for comfort. 10 minutes ago via web

The rebels have been stopped in their tracks on the road to #Sirte. Heavy artillery and rockes landed near the crucial coastal road. 11 minutes ago via web

See the problem is helping the rebels in offensive operation isn't part of the deal.

UN Security Council resolution 1973 -- the fruit of intense diplomacy to avoid Russian and Chinese vetoes while winning Arab support -- allows for "all necessary means" to support the limited aim of protecting Libyan civilians.

But coalition air strikes have struck Kadhafi's ground forces as well as targets in the capital Tripoli and the strongman's hometown of Sirte, prompting accusations that the alliance is over-reaching its mandate.

Pressed on whether the coalition was liaising with the rebels on the ground, the senior US official said: "In terms of coordinating with rebel forces, no. Our mission is to protect civilians.

"It's not about the rebels, it's about the protection of civilian populations. That's what UNSC 1973 has mandated and that's the mandate that NATO is now taking on."

Questioned on the apparent contradiction in rebels now attacking towns held by Kadhafi forces and perhaps putting civilian lives at risk, the official demurred.

"It's been very clear up to this point that it is the regime of Colonel Kadhafi that is engaged in horrendous acts against civilians and therefore it is those forces that are being targeted," the official said.

So which is it? Are we simply protecting civilians or are we the rebel's air force?

Add this to Obama's statements about how American's policy is to topple the regime but the coalitions military action isn't and it's all as clear as mud.

At some point we have to take a fork in the road. Maybe the President will cue us in tonight.

As much of a skeptic as I am about this mission (whatever it is), I'd say the costs of leaving Gadaffi in power are too high. We had some sort of truce going with him but having led the effort to kill him and end his regime, I'm betting he'd be back to his old plane bombing ways if this ends with him in power. Of course, if we do kick him out or kill him, that probably means sticking around for years while Libya tries to dig out of 40 years of this maniac's rule. Hey, who is up for helping guys who fought us in Afghanistan set up a government in Libya?

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posted by DrewM. at 02:16 PM

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